Wei Jingsheng Reflects on Working Toward Peace
between cultures are easy enough to see. But I think the
similarities are far greater and more important. No matter
which culture they belong to, mothers everywhere love their
children. Around the world, you, me, our families-we all
feel love in the same way. If we are in a fight and get
hurt, we all cry. We all feel pain in the same way. We all
feel sorrow, anger, and disillusionment in the same way.
We all hunger in the same way. And we all dream of freedom
in the same way.
We need to pay attention to the true differences to make
sure that those differences are not in actuality discrepancies:
everyone around the world must be given the same rights
Opening China to the world has dramatically affected the
movement for democracy. The process of opening up is a process
whereby the government loosens its control of the people.
On the other hand, simply opening the economy is not enough.
Very few people are actually able to enjoy the economic
reforms. The privileged classes, or those who have connections
with the privileged classes, enjoy more benefits from an
There are a billion people in China, and the majority of
them do not enjoy the prosperity proclaimed by the media.
Even according to official statistics from China, only one
or two million people have personal wealth over one million
yuan. Those few people, of course, are very comfortable.
But China is a much bigger country than that. The majority
of people in China are not content.
People ask me if I am discouraged that the Chinese democracy
movement seems to have fallen off the media's radar screen.
Believe it or not, I am not. China's democracy movement
has matured since 1989, when it was mostly students. Today
there are more workers and farmers involved in the movement;
there are more ordinary people. But the government is also
putting much more pressure on people involved in the democracy
movement because more are involved. The kind of demonstration
that happened in Tiananmen Square in 1989 is nearly impossible
In 1979 I was one of a number of people ready to voice their
hope for a democratic China. The day after I issued my essay
on the fifth modernization in China, thirteen people knocked
on my door and asked me to organize a small group. This
meant a great risk at the time. You had to risk your life.
You faced a death sentence. So I asked those thirteen people
if they were ready to make that decision. Only four of them
were. Together we published the magazine Exploration.
I was first imprisoned in China for fifteen years. I later
received another long sentence but served only three years
before being released in 1997 thanks to diplomatic efforts
on my behalf. During those first fifteen years, I knew nothing
of the outside world. But I always believed that there were
people who would struggle for me-that they would struggle
for justice, and that justice would win over evil. And what
happened to me tells me that my faith in people was right.
I have a great belief in a better world.
Today, the first thing we must do is, of course, keep pressure
on the Communist government. We need to call on the people
who support democracy within the government. We need to
call upon the strength of the poorest people in China. And
we need to use the influence of foreign countries. We need
to pressure the Communist Party the same way you try to
get a child who doesn't want to study to study. You have
to press him to do the right thing.
In a society where reason has no place-but force does-the
army always has great influence over government. The Chinese
army influences many aspects of Chinese society. Ordinary
officers and soldiers, like ordinary Chinese people, also
want more equal rights. They have had their voice heard.
But of course there are also many corrupt officers in the
army who favor a corrupt government.
I began expressing my hope for a democratic China in 1978.
In the past twenty-two years, more and more Chinese people
have come to agree with me. Tiananmen Square demonstrated
that our people are willing to make enormous sacrifices
for their country's democracy. The minority of people who
do not know, or do not want to know, about democracy will
not negate the desire of the people.
We must never forget that the dictatorship of Mao Zedong
itself made it possible for the people to realize that no
authoritarian government is good. Only democracy is good
for the people.
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